Networking activities in Digital Arts for Africa
Networking activities in Digital Arts for Africa and future developments
A one day workshop on networking opportunities in digital creative practices in Africa was held on 4 September 2005 at Ars Electronica 2005 (Linz, Austria). Discussions focused on pilot projects to support and develop creative practices in Africa through the use of information and communication technologies. Furthermore, an Africa Infopack, was also launched in the Electrolobby on 5 September 2005. This Infopack is a tool to find people to join the network of DigiArts Africa and to contribute, participate and gain from the network of key network agents.
Digital practises in Africa are still limited in artistic expression and the visibility of African digital artists in international festivals and regional festivals are restricted. It is therefore difficult to obtain real commitment from local partners to support digital arts, be it in terms of exhibition spaces, equipment, funding or training opportunities. If occasions are created through international festivals or funding, little follow-up exist to take these prospects further and create sustainable formal opportunities to work collaboratively crossing different disciplines and geo-cultural borders.
African artists and other creative practitioners have very specific needs in order to grasp the opportunities that information and communication technologies offer in creative practises. The most basic requirement is access to equipment and connectivity. Access is a constant challenge and the awareness of the opportunities that the digital means offer, is a decisive factor to the long-term sustainable development of digital expression. Another basic necessity is communication channels for artists to exchange among each other and have easier access to information resources and practical training opportunities offered by international and national festivals and residencies.
A variety of actors are addressing these needs and working towards promoting digital artistic expression, such as museums, foundations, art festivals and training centres. By joining the efforts of the different actors a more efficient approach could be envisaged in order to promote digital creative expression in Africa. The DigiArts Africa network seems like an appropriate channel to mainstream digital creative practises, reinforcing the capacities of a variety of actors in Africa and ultimately nurturing the development of creative industries through cross-sectorial and inter-regional cooperation.
The Austrian National Commission for UNESCO and Ars Electronica festival were key players in assisting UNESCO in extending the digital arts network to Africa and work towards capacity building in information technologies as emphasized in the Action Plan of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
DigiArts Africa: http://www.unesco.org/culture/digiarts/africa
Ars Electronica Festival: http://www.aec.at/